Shortly after our arrival in Kupang, we had a visitor come to our boat. Before leaving Darwin, the Sail Indonesia Rally people told us to contact a man name Ayub who could help us with the customs procedures. Ayub showed up an hour after we dropped our hook in a canoe from shore. We had planned to nap for a couple of hours before contacting him and starting our customs entry, but here he was and so we needed to start right away. He speaks English pretty well and is very eager to help.
As with many less developed nations, the government system is much more bureaucratic and involved for getting clearances to enter the country. Furthermore, Indonesia is a country where prices are not fixed and negotiation is the norm for pricing. I was told Ayub could help us with the process. After he was dropped off, he explained what we would need to do. He told me what to expect to pay for each of the four offices we would need to meet with: customs, immigration, quarantine, and the harbour master. He also made it clear, because he is “friends” with the officials, that we could get the process done in less than a day. Much faster than normal apparently.
Well, Ayub did make things go quicker – we completed everything in about 3 hours. He found us a nice taxi, and he worked to get us into the right officials very quickly. We were amazed at the amount of paperwork involved and the amount of rubber stamping and signatures needed for each document. I assumed Ayub was working to insure we would pay the right prices. He was really making sure we got the “best” service. Which meant we ended up paying about twice what I was expecting. But, Ayub, and the officials, were certainly very happy and accomodating to us. No wonder!
We got back to the boat and slept. It was a bit annoying though that in the afternoon a strong sea breeze kicked in – and it was from a northerly direction which made the anchorage pretty bumpy. This apparently is the current weather pattern here as it happened again the next day. I was lamenting that we had no wind the entire trip, and here was a great sailing breeze.
The next day we got SIM cards for our phones with Internet. I need to go back and get recharge cards and find out options for faster Internet, I understand you can buy faster Internet if you ask. The exchange rate here is very good. We bought lunch for both of us, and two beers, for $10. We also set up for a tour, and this time negotiated a better price. As Americans, we don’t have a lot of experience with negotiating pricing, but we’ll just have to learn. It’s the norm here. We are also slowly learning more Indonesian phrases which we started studying before we arrived. Not many people speak English here.
We plan to leave soon after our tour to go to the islands of Ringda and Komodo, where the Komodo dragons live. Seeing the dragons is one of the highlights of Indonesia we didn’t want ot miss. The other boats ahead of us visited many other places along the way, but we won’t have time since we were delayed for two months. After Komodo, we will be heading pretty much straight for Bali.